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The BBB offers tips to lower fuel consumption

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz
The Quick Pick gas station on North Main Street in Jonesboro, displays its unleaded gas price of $3.58 per gallon, on Monday.

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz The Quick Pick gas station on North Main Street in Jonesboro, displays its unleaded gas price of $3.58 per gallon, on Monday.

By M.J. Subiria Arauz

marauz@news-daily.com

The average price of unleaded gasoline in Georgia fell 6 cents in the past week, to $3.66 per gallon, said a local American Automobile Association spokeswoman.

"Retail gas prices have already started to fall, and consumers will see further reductions at the pump throughout the week," said Jessica Brady, of AAA Auto Club South.

The nation, overall, experienced a 3-cent decrease in the average price of unleaded gas, she said, which now stands at $3.67 per gallon.

She said crude oil prices had their largest weekly loss since Osama bin Laden's death was announced on May 6. The cause includes talk of poor economic news in the market, which pushed oil prices below $90 a barrel, despite the government's action of increasing the debt ceiling, she said.

The oil price closed on the New York Mercantile Exchange at $86.88 a barrel on Aug. 5, a decrease of $8.82 from the week before.

Brady said crude oil price drops are also due to consumer spending. "Consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level in the past two months, while consumer spending fell for the first time in almost two years, according to the [United States Department of Commerce]," she said.

Dottie Callina, spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens & Northeast Georgia Inc., said, even so, gasoline prices have risen above the $4 mark at one time or another, in most states in recent months.

The average U.S. family, with two drivers, spends almost $1,000 more a year for gas, than they would have two years ago, said Callina. This statistic comes from a Sperling's BestPlaces study, she said.

Consumers should take practical steps to increase their gas mileage, though they also should be wary of false claims, that end up emptying their wallets, instead of saving fuel, she said.

Callina said many web sites create exaggerated claims for various after-market automotive devices, and oil and gasoline additives that increase gasoline mileage. The Federal Trade Commission found these claims to be false or fabricated, she said.

A vehicle should be checked by a mechanic before adding a fuel-saving device to it, she said. A motorist may wind up with a voided manufacturers warranty, or serious engine mishaps, if they add after-market devices, such as fuel-line magnets, or retrofit gadgets.

"Summer travelers should shop around," added Fred Elsberry, president of the local BBB. "Nowadays, many smartphones have apps specifically for finding the cheapest gas prices in your area."

Elsberry said consumers may also want to consider getting a credit card that gives them cash back perks for gas purchases.

Callina said that a person's total at the pump depends on how much the vehicle is used and the type of gasoline used. The spokeswoman said BBB's tips to save on fuel consumption include:

* Choosing the right octane for a vehicle.

Motorists should check their owner's manual to find the octane required for their vehicle, said Callina. The higher the octane, the more expensive the price per gallon.

* Keep engine tuned.

Poorly tuned engines can increase fuel consumption between 10 and 20 percent, she said. Motorists should follow their manual's maintenance schedule. This will allow their car to save fuel, run better and last longer, she said.

* Engine should not run on idle longer than necessary.

A vehicle's engine warms up faster while someone is driving it, said the spokeswoman. It is more efficient to turn off the engine, than to keep it idle for longer than 30 seconds.

* Drive more efficiently.

Motorists should stay within the posted speed limit, because fast drivers consume more fuel, she said.

* Keep tires properly inflated and aligned.

Automobile manufactures, said Callina, must place a label in a vehicle indicating the correct tire pressure. If a label has a pounds-per-square-inch range, drivers should use the higher number to raise the vehicle's fuel efficiency, she said.

* Anticipate the driving condition.

Driving smoothly and steadily saves fuel consumption, she said. Accelerating and making sudden stops uses more.

* Regularly change oil and replace air filters.

Clean oil decreases the wear caused by friction between engine parts and takes away bad substances from an engine, said Callina. "Your air filter keeps impurities in the air from damaging internal engine components," she added.

Visit AAA's web site at www.aaa.com, or BBB's site at www.bbb.com, for more fuel or consumer information.